The impact of COVID-19 on your protection policy – Your questions answered
New Ireland would like to reassure its customers that the COVID-19 pandemic does not adversely impact the rights customers already have under existing policies. We are receiving lots of enquiries and we thought it would be helpful to set out the position on some of the most common questions arising. We fully appreciate these are challenging times and you can be assured we will be supporting you through them to the very best of our ability.
Covid 19 and My Protection Policy
Question 1 – Does my existing policy cover COVID-19 or does COVID-19 impact my ability to claim under my existing policy?
The cover you had before COVID-19 won’t change as a result of COVID-19. The cover you have depends on the type of policy you have and the benefits you selected when you took the policy out. Here’s an overview of types of cover and the impact of COVID-19:
If you have cover for death on your policy and death occurs as a result of COVID-19, the death benefit will still be paid assuming any other conditions for payment of a death benefit are met. There is no exclusion in our policies for death arising from a disease such as COVID-19.
Specified/Critical/Serious Illness Cover
While it depends on the terms of the policy you hold (and we will be happy to check in any case), in general COVID-19 is not one of the serious illnesses covered by our policies which would result in a serious illness benefit being paid. What serious illnesses are covered will be clearly set out in your policy conditions and in some cases the severity level required before an amount is paid. While COVID-19 itself may not be covered, COVID-19 does not impact your ability to claim for serious illness benefit if you meet the definition of one or more of the serious illnesses that are covered by the policy
If you have cover under your policy to protect you in the event you are hospitalised, then hospitalisation as a result of COVID-19 won’t prevent you from relying on that cover. Please do however refer to your policy conditions to understand what hospitals are covered.
If you have income protection benefit under your policy, COVID-19 won’t adversely impact that benefit. If you meet the definition of disability as set out in your policy conditions then your income protection benefit will be paid after any deferred period that applies. No new conditions will be imposed and payment will be made where a valid claim arises under the existing terms.
Question 2 – I am currently in the process of taking out a new policy. Do I need to declare if I have had COVID-19 symptoms, if I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or if I am awaiting test results for COVID-19?
Yes. You need to answer the questions asked on the application form fully to enable us assess your application. The application form includes questions that require you to tell us about any medical conditions you have been diagnosed with, including Covid-19, and asks you to tell us if you have been referred for any tests or are awaiting the results of any tests, including tests for Covid-19.
You also need to tell us if you were referred for any tests, are awaiting any test results or were diagnosed after you submitted an application but before the policy has commenced, The application form also includes a question on recent medical history; you will need to tell us in this question if you’ve had any symptom or symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 3 months.
You do not need to tell us if your policy was already in force before you had COVID 19 symptoms, before you were referred for a COVID-19 test or before you received a Covid-19 test result.
Question 3 – If I have experienced COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 does this mean I cannot get cover?
If you are applying to take out a policy and have tested positive for COVID-19,are awaiting test results for COVID-19 or have been referred for a test for COVID-19, a final decision on an application for cover will be postponed until you have fully recovered and back to normal activities for a period of time. . If you are applying to take out a policy and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms then a final decision on your application for cover will be made once you have been symptom free for at least 1 month. When we assess an application for cover we of course take all medical details provided into account and not just any disclosures about COVID-19.
Question 4 – Are there any restrictions on travel to COVID-19 infected areas under my existing policy conditions?
While there are no restrictions enforced specifically for COVID-19, there may be some restrictions on the countries that cover will be extended to. This depends on the terms of the policy you have and New Ireland won’t be changing the terms of your existing policy. If travel restrictions don’t currently apply, that will continue to be the case. It is however important to check your policy to see if cover applies to certain countries only. These countries are often referred to as ‘approved territories’ in your policy conditions but this will depend on the policy conditions you have.
Question 5 – Have you now changed the types of questions being asked in your application forms?
Yes. We have now made a change to the questions we ask in our application forms which requires you to tell us about any COVID-19 symptoms you have had in the last 3 months. If you inform us that you have been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, we will defer your application for insurance cover until you are symptom free for 1 month. A decision on your application for insurance cover may also be postponed if you fall into an at risk group such as those as outlined by the HSE.
Mortgage Protection Payment Break as a result of Covid 19
Question 6 – Am I eligible for a mortgage protection payment waiver?
The 3-month mortgage protection payment waiver is available for customers who meet the following criteria;
- You have a Mortgage Protection or Term Assurance policy that is assigned to a residential mortgage.
- You are currently paying your mortgage protection premium monthly by direct debit.
- You have been granted a mortgage payment break from your lender. We will require evidence of this.
- Your policy must be in force on or before 1 March 2020.
Question 7 – Is my Mortgage Protection policy unit linked or non-unit linked? How can I tell?
If your mortgage protection policy has a savings element or a fund value attached to it, then it’s classed as a unit-linked protection policy. The Annual Benefit Statement we send you each year will state if your policy has a fund value or not, it will show the number of units you own under your policy. If you have a unit linked (reviewable) protection policy this product offers flexibility so that, if necessary, you can reduce your monthly premiums, or take a premium holiday until you are back on your feet. There are a range of options potentially available and to make sure you understand which option might suit you best we recommend that you discuss with your financial advisor or broker or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
If your policy does not have a fund value then it is classed as a non-unit linked policy. If you need more clarification on what type of policy you have, please email us on email@example.com and we will be happy to help. Please include your name, contact details and policy number with your query.
Question 8 – How do I apply for a mortgage protection payment waiver?
To request a payment waiver, please send an instruction signed by each policyholder and evidence of approval of your mortgage payment break from your bank by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.The request must reference your New Ireland Assurance policy number and should be received in New Ireland Assurance no later than 10 working days prior to the next premium due date so we have time to action it before your next premium is due. Once you have been granted a premium waiver on your policy, the following 3 monthly payments will be waived. Once the 3 months have ended, your direct debits will then recommence automatically. Applications for premium waivers will remain open until Friday 17th July 2020.
New Ireland Assurance reserve the right to withdraw this offer at any time.
Question 9 – Can I make amendments to my mortgage protection policy while my payment waiver is in force?
No. Premiums will only be waived for existing policies and at their current level of cover i.e. we won’t allow any amendments on these policies which result in a premium increase to you.
Question 10 – Am I still covered under my policy when I am availing of this three month mortgage protection payment waiver?
Yes. You will still receive the same benefits and cover that you currently have on your policy when you are availing of the three month payment waiver.
Question 11 – What happens at the end of the 3-month payment waiver on my mortgage protection policy?
Your direct debit mandates will automatically restart after the 3 months is up and we will need you to confirm that you understand and are happy for this to happen. However, it’s important that you ensure that after this period is over that your policy continues to meet your needs in terms of level of cover and term as any changes to term or benefit may affect the premium you pay. It’s also important to note that the 3 months premiums will not be required to be repaid at a later date.
Question 12 – If I receive an extended payment break on my mortgage will my 3 month mortgage protection payment waiver be extended also?
No. It is important that you meet with an advisor after your 3-month payment waiver to ensure the policy continues to meet your needs.
Question 13 – What if I have a term assurance policy but it is not assigned to a mortgage. What can you offer me instead?
If you have a Term Assurance policy but it is not assigned to a mortgage, we will offer 30 days grace when you remain on cover after your premium due date. This means you will remain on cover for this 30 day period with valid claims being paid minus any unpaid premiums. After this 30 day period, you will have a further 60 days to reinstate your policy without the need for a declaration of health. Please note that during this 60 day period you will not be on cover and you will need to ensure all unpaid premiums are paid before you can reinstate your policy.
Question 14 – Does this apply to my protection policy that is assigned to other loans than a mortgage?
No but you can avail of the 30 day grace period when you remain on cover.
Question 15 – Can my Financial Broker or Advisor request this on my behalf?
Yes, your advisor can send in a request for a payment waiver on your behalf. However, they will need to provide us with the following;
- A request for a payment waiver from you.
- A statement that you would like to avail of this financial support due to Covid 19
- Your consent that your direct debit mandate can continue to collect premiums after the 3 months
- Evidence from your lender that you have been granted a residential mortgage payment break.
New Ireland will accept this from your Financial Broker or Advisor – they simply need to attach an email from you with the above information and send it to email@example.com.